Particle Fever

As the Large Hadron Collider is about to be launched for the first time, physicists are on the cusp of the greatest scientific discovery of all time -- or perhaps their greatest failure.


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  • ★★★½ review by sprizzle on Letterboxd

    Science is God.

    Maybe the universe is made up of a bunch of particles we'll never understand. But a lot of scientists working at CERN are trying their best to simplify it as much as possible. Understanding the physics of our universe leads to a more fundamental understanding of why we exist. One of the grandest and possibly most futile questions to ask.

    This documentary explores a group of people working around the time of the launch of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in Sweden and it's impact on society. If you have followed the developments, you know we found it. In 2012, the discovery of the Higgs boson particle was announced to the public. What does that mean exactly? The simple answer is no one is sure. It has confirmed predictions made 40 years ago and helped fill in the standard model of physics. But they're is still a long way to go.

    The film does a good job of making everything seem as momentous as it actually is. The picked a handful of super enthusiastic people to follow around and that helps bring a sense of wonder. It mixed the thick textbook familiar descriptions of science with a human element. It shows the art behind the science. It's not as cold as you may expect from such an informative film. They go out of their way to explain what's going on in layman's terms. The scope is huge, the pressure is high. If you're a physics buff you already know the ending but it still gets you there in an enjoyable and interesting way.

    "What is the LHC good for? Possibly nothing except for understanding everything."

  • ★★★½ review by Keith on Letterboxd

    Groundbreaking and epic scientific collaboration and achievement portrayed through an assortment of interesting and relatable characters. Takes incomprehensible physics (to most of us) and creates a fun and dramatic story.

  • ★★★½ review by sydney on Letterboxd

    "Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the big secret to success."

  • ★★★★ review by Sue Madré on Letterboxd

    What's this? A geeky documentary chockers with theoretical and experimental physicists that chronicles the building of the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs Boson? Sign me up!!

    Particle Fever is a story of science, hope, faith, and discovery, told in a fairly straightforward documentary style. The animations are brilliant in places, but not explained in much detail.

    It's the scientists who are the real stars here, with all their quirks (quarks?) and insecurities. They are making amazing discoveries about the fundamental nature of the universe, but they're just as humble and goofy as they can be.

    Overall it's a joyful look at scientists, and what drives them to discovery. Good fun.

  • ★★★★ review by Ruksana 🍂 on Letterboxd

    Particle Fever is a documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and the monumental discovery of the Higgs-Boson. It aims to tell this story to laypeople in clear and unambiguous terms, demystifying the science behind it and capturing the drama, as well as some of the philosophical dimensions, of the hunt for this legendary particle.

    Two things the documentary does very well:

    1. Colorful, easy-to-understand animated infographics that illustrate the scientific theories and principles under discussion. What can I say? I am a Millennial. I love a good infographic.

    2. Picking interesting interview subjects from within the thousands of scientists working on the project. These people are all unabashed eggheads, and their legitimate giddiness over their dreams coming to fruition is totally infectious. I really hope Tumblr has seized upon the adorable non-couple of theoretical physicists David Kaplan and Nima Arkani-Hamed, whose equally bizarre hair and diametrically-opposed theories of the universe make them shipbait if I ever saw it.

    If anything it's a fairly slight film for its subject matter, but I think that works out. Co-produced by Kaplan and directed by former physicist Mark Levinson, it's clearly a labor of enthusiasm and celebration, hoping to share the joy of discovery with a mass audience. Consider me enthused.

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